Thursday, 6 October 2011

Shadow Lives

Ganja & Hess is an arty vampire-ish thriller directed and starring Bill Gunn. Presumably the producers had expected something along the lines of Blacula but instead they got a moody, dreamlike fable about an affluent anthropology Professor stabbed by his assistant with an ancient dagger who awakes with thirst for blood and is seemingly immortal. Though it struggles with it's low budget and patchy improvised script this is an ambitious, intelligent horror about power, money and social roles. I could grumble on about the sound design, some sequences are barely tolerable, but they're offset by the choice gospel music peppered throughout. There's plenty of chin stroking analyses online and I could argue against the most prevalent one but I'd rather not waste your time. Just watch it if you can and enjoy a stunning, atmospheric feature that's a sorely neglected keystone in black film history.
Guillermo Del Toro produced and scripted the remake of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark which fleshes out the spartan 1973 TV movie into something more contemporary with predictably mixed results. While renovating an old house with a new Mrs and his kid, Guy Pearce uncovers a secret basement with a curious locked grate that, unbeknownst to him, holds some child hungry critters at bay. The acting is alright I suppose, there's a few mild scares along the way and the little devils are nicely designed but it's far too brightly shot for a film about things lurking in the dark and never really conjures even the modest gloom of the original. Meh.

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